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By No owner — last modified Aug 16, 2017 04:04 PM

 Trinidad & Tobago - Formalities


Yachts entering Trinidad territorial waters should call coastguard control on Channel 16 to advise of the yacht's arrival and to give an ETA.

Fly the Q flag.


If you arrive or depart Trinidad Waters outside of regular office hours (0800-1200, 1300-1600 Mon-Fri, except public holidays), you will be charged overtime. It is therefore advisable to time your arrival and departure within normal office hours

Inward Clearance

Customs is open 24/7 and it is important to visit them immediately on arrival even if Immigration is closed. Once a vessel has entered territorial waters, the captain and the crew must check in with 24 hours of arrival.

Arriving yachts should clear at either Chaguaramas in Trinidad or Scarborough or Charlotteville in Tobago. Port of Spain is a commercial port, and yachts may only stop there in real emergencies. Chaguaramas has an office dedicated to clearance formalities.

Yachts are required to check in/out when moving between Trinidad and Tobago.

Yachts sailing from Trinidad to Tobago must get the "Arrival Form" endorsed by the Customs officer in Chaguaramas. This form must be presented to Customs on arrival at Scarborough or Charlotteville. The same procedure is necessary for the reverse voyage. Be sure to make sure your paperwork is all in order before moving between the two islands as penalities for incorrect paperwork can be harsh (see this comment).

With permission from the Customs officer in Trinidad you can anchor elsewhere in Tobago, such as Store Bay, and go overland to Scarborough to complete the necessary formalities.

Once in Tobago, Customs will require a 'float plan' complete with the dates on which you will be at various destinations.

Outward clearance

Yachts must clear out of one of the two recommended ports. Yachts clear out with Customs, Immigration and Port Authority. Whilst Immigration give you 24 hours to depart Trinidad Waters, Customs only give you 4 hours.

You may NOT drop anchor en route along the north coast of Trinidad but must proceed directly to Chaguaramas. This is a security reason and for your own safety.

If departing for Grenada, it is now possible to file a passage plan with the coastguard. See report here for further details.

Last updated March 2016.


Trinidad and Tobago’s Immigration Department announced in November 2016 that upon arrival, under normal circumstances, all visiting yachts will henceforth be granted an initial period of six months to remain in T and T.  Visitors entering T and T by air to join yachts that are in T and T will also be granted six months.

After the initial six month period, yachts are welcome to seek an extension to increase their initial stay if you have a reasonable reason (hurricane season, work on the boat etc.).

Passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended stay (3 months for citizens of USA, EU and the British Commonwealth).

Visas for visits of up to 90 days are not required by citizens of the United States, the Caricom countries (except Haiti), European Union and British Commonwealth with the exception of the following countries:-

Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Australia, Cameroon, India, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda.

Australian crew on yachts are also not required to have a visa, however Australian tourists entering by plane or ferry do require visas.

Immigration (and Customs) will charge overtime outside of the normal working hours, which are 0800-1200, 1300-1600 Monday to Friday.

Crew departing Trinidad and Tobago by air must be signed off the vessel and signed on again when returning. The procedure requires a letter prepared by the marina or boatyard, which must be approved by the Immigration officer. This approval allows for proper paperwork at the airport (or other port of exit) and an exclusion of the airport tax if executed within 24 hours of departure. This letter must be in the hands of the crew prior to departure to enable embarkation without a return ticket. This same letter will be used as authorisation for re-entry into Trinidad to rejoin the vessel. When the crew returns to Trinidad and Tobago, the master must present the crew's passport to the Immigration officer at the Chaguaramas station within 24 hours to sign the crew back on the vessel.

There is a similar procedure for crew transferring to another boat.
Important note: A crew member may not sign on to a vessel that is staying longer than the one on which he arrived.

Immigration requires a Medical Certificate for persons who wish to remain in Trinidad & Tobago for periods exceeding one year. Declaration by applicant must be made in the presence of the Examining Medical Officer.

Last updated November 2016.

Immigration Office (Tobago)
Milford Road , Tobago
Immigration Office (Trinidad)
67 Frederick Street , Port of Spain


You must report to Customs immediately you arrive, even if Immigration is closed.

Note that on checking-out of Trinidad, Customs give you 4 hours to depart.

If your arrival or departure time is outside of business hours (i.e. 08:00 - 12:00, 13:00 - 16:00 Monday to Friday), you will be charged overtime fees.

Firearms and ammunition must be declared on arrival and will be taken by the Customs boarding officer and placed in custody at the central police station.

Requests for their return prior to departure must be made to Customs at least 48 hours before clearance (preferably longer). Failure to do so may result in a delay to departure or departure without the firearms. To keep firearms in your possession during the stay, it is necessary to apply to the Commissioner of Police for a licence.

Fruit & Vegetables
Fruits, plants and plant material must be inspected by a plant quarantine officer before being landed. Honey from other islands may not be allowed.

Any alcohol on board should also be declared.

Temporary Importation of Yachts
Yachts are admitted duty-free for a reasonable period of time. Boats stored for longer terms must be left in the care of an approved yard. Some formalities must be completed at Customs, including a full inventory of items on board.

If a yacht is left unattended, it will be necessary to complete formalities for temporary importation. This is normally carried out through Chaguaramas Customs station.

Importing Yacht Parts
Boat parts and spares for yachts in transit may be imported free of duty by following the recommended procedure by Customs. Only items deemed to be yacht parts can be imported duty free. The treatment of anything else will depend on the officer in charge at the time.

Only the captain of the vessel is allowed to carry duty free parts from the airport to Chaguaramas Customs station, where they will be transferred on board.

Parts arriving by courier will be delivered to Chaguaramas Customs station. Parcels arriving via the postal service will come to the Carenage Post Office, which will notify the yacht, after which the parcel will be cleared at the Ajax Street post office in Port of Spain.

It is very important that not only the parcel be marked Yacht in Transit, but ALL the paperwork be also so marked.

There is no longer any overtime charge for the Customs inspection of imported spare parts.

Large items (eg dinghy, engine etc.) can be purchased free of tax by providing a set of your ship’s papers and declaring the purchase is for a yacht in transit. The same is true if you contract for a large job like a set of sails or a new teak deck; you will not have to pay any tax.

Last updated March 2016.


A yellow fever inoculation certificate is needed if coming from an infected area in South America.

Good medical care is available.

ZIKA VIRUS ALERT: (September 2016) There have been recent safety alerts from the US State Department, UK Foreign Office, and Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding travel to parts of Central and South America, Africa, southern Asia, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific islands. Both islands of Trinidad & Tobago are areas of interest. There is growing concern about the rapid spread of the ZIKA Virus and the impact of the virus on pregnant women and babies. ZIKA is transmitted by mosquitos in tropical and sub-tropical climates, and there is currently no cure or vaccine. This situation is evolving rapidly, so please refer to the CDC’s dedicated website if you are intending to cruise in one of the effected areas.


An actual cruising permit is not required; however, on arrival the captain must notify the authorities of the vessel's intended itinerary to cruise around the islands and permission must be obtained before sailing. Permission must be obtained from customs for any movement of the yacht, from one port or place to another, and to cruise the coast of either Trinidad or Tobago.


Visa and visa waiver fee is $TT400/person.
Visa extensions cost between $TT100 and $TT150.

After completion of immigration formalities on arrival, the customs officer will collect $TT50 for the first 30 days of navigation dues. The balance of these dues will be collected when the boat clears out.

Harbour Fees
Harbour fees are TT$50 for every 30 days in Trinidad up to a maximum TT$500 in any one year.

Overtime Charges
Overtime for yachts arriving and departing is charged outside of working hours on weekdays and all day Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Customs charge overtime as follows:
Examination of imported goods: TT$ 91.20.
Arrival boarding: TT$ 136.79.
Departure clearance: TT$117.26.
Immigration overtime is TT$100.

Departure Tax
Departure tax per person: TT$100.

Last updated March 2016.


The tanker ports at Point Fortin and Pointe-à-Pierre, and the cargo port of Point Lisas, are prohibited to yachts.

Trinidad requires cooking gas tanks to be tested every 5 years. If your tank does not meet this requirement you will be required to have it done.

It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.

Wider Caribbean's Marine Protected Areas (CaMPAM)
A useful database of MPAs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. All Marine Parks are MPAs, and therefore if wanting to find out about any marine parks in the islands you are visiting, details and location can be sourced via this website.


Trinidad does not have rabies except in the bat population, so pet regulations are strict.

Pets entering must be declared to Customs on entry. No animal is allowed ashore unless a permit is obtained from the Veterinary Services Division. It is essential to have an Importation License which must be applied for three months prior to travel. In addition necessary arrangements must be made 24 hours before arrival in order for the dog or cat to be inspected on arrival.

Dogs and cats entering from the US must undergo six months quarantine at the Quarantine Station but this time can be reduced to 30 days if (1) Dogs have appropriate microchip (2) Dogs or cats have been vaccinated against Rabies within six months but not more than a year before planned travel. (3) pets have a rabies blood test one month after vaccination For more information contact Veterinary Services Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resourses, St Clair Circle, St Clair - Tel: (868) 622 1221, Fax: (868) 622 4240, Email For copy of importation form and further information visit

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Aug 16, 2017 04:03 PM

Sargassum hits Tobago:
Reported by Joan Conover 10 August, 2017.
Tobago has its beaches full of Sargassum weed. There is currently no solution to this problem. An online site to track Sargassum weed via satellite images is in development - lots of discussions right now about what to do about this problem.
Search "Sargassum" on noonsite for latest news items.

nadireberker says:
May 13, 2017 10:51 PM

Update on Tobago from SY Keyif, 19/2/2017 to 23/2/2017

We had reached Scarborough early in the morning after a 24 day, 19 hour passage from St. Helena.
The anchoring space was extremely limited, and even with our shallow draft boat of 1m, we were unable to fit our 45ft monohull Keyif in to the place we were ordered by the Port Master.
So we stayed only for an hour, not to be in the way of the ferries running back and forth from Trinidad. The immigration officers were very friendly, but it was expensive to check in as we arrived on a Sunday.
The check in procedure with the customs was also expensive, but went relatively smoothly, after which we anchored in Store Bay, 9 miles south.
The sea was inviting, but the never-ending parade of jet skis made swimming a frightening experience. The life ashore was pretty mediocre, with bad infrastructure and shabby tourist establishments.
The fresh vegetables and fruit were hard to find, and the prices were surprisingly high.
We are runners, and ran from Store Bay to town and back, also did some other runs nearby, but found the island to be generally not very friendly. Not worth a visit at all, and pretty disappointing after a long passage.
The check out in customs turned out to be terrifying for me. We are used to bureaucracy, and have dealt very successfully with sometimes difficult officials all over the world during our five year circumnavigation, and being from a country famous for its bureaucracy, we are proud of our ability to handle delicate situations with extreme care. Never in our lives at sea or on land, had we experienced such unpleasantness, leading to terror.
The customs official had previously stated that he did not need to see the captain on check out. So my husband stayed on the boat, and I took the bus to town to finish the check out procedures. Upon arrival in customs, there was another official who asked if I was the captain, and when I said 'For now, yes', accused me of lying to him. I apologised and reminded him that this was a two person small sailboat, so it did not really matter who the captain was, upon which he said I was insulting an official of the government, and he would call the police and have me jailed. In spite of my profuse apologies and explanations, I was not allowed to leave, but to sit and wait for the police.
After the official left the room, I waited for some nerve wrecking minutes. Eventually, one of the other officials who had witnessed the whole affair took and secretly stamped my papers to let me go. As I was leaving, the one who wanted to have me jailed came to create another scene, and the two ended up fighting while I quickly escaped.
I would never visit Tobago again, and never advise anyone to do so. There are so many islands to choose from in the Caribbean, one more beautiful than the other, and Tobago is definitely not worth the effort or the expense.

nadireberker says:
May 13, 2017 10:49 PM

Update on Trinidad from SY Keyif 24-28/2/2017

Keyif was in Crews Inn Marina for the Trinidad Carnival. We thought this to be the perfect ending to our five year circumnavigation. We would like to thank Mr. Jesse James for taking unbeliavably good care of us during our stay, and making sure we had a fantastic time. Without him, we could never have experienced the Carnival so intensely, so easily and so safely. However, the Carnival was a disappointment for those of us searching for the authentic experience. It has become a big touristic attraction, full of paying guests from the US and Europe who do not know how to dance, in fact, the outsiders in some bands outnumber locals, and there is no show but clothes.
Crews Inn Marina has an excellent, rather inexpensive do it yourself laundry, good pool, very efficient and helpful dockmaster, OK wifi. Beware the mosquitos, and the secretarial staff. Especially the lady supervisor is extremely rude and unpleasant.
The customs in Trinidad are in the marina premises in Crews Inn, and they are very helpful. However it costs a lot to check in and out after hours. Even if you finish your check out procedure within working hours, you still must pay if your actual leaving time is after 16:00.
The immigration officer played an unpleasant trick and made us wait for half an hour, until it was 16:05, then made us pay for overtime. In total, we paid nearly 350$ for a five person crew, three of which joined us in Trinidad, an exorbitant amount when you compare with the other islands of the Caribbean.
Apart from hauling out for the hurricane season, there is nothing in Trinidad that appeals to a long distance cruiser. Then there is the biggest drawback to hauling out there, the hassles with immigration and customs! So no more Trini for Keyif and crew.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 06, 2016 01:22 PM

Sep. 30th 2016
Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced during the reading of the 2016-2017 Budget today that foreign yacht repair services will be made a VAT exempt service for yacht owners. This in keeping with international best practice and will take effect in the first quarter of 2017

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 14, 2016 02:59 PM

Posted on behalf of Captain Peter:
Few tips to sailors approaching or leaving Trinidad. Don't use the south entrance into the Gulf of Paria if you're coming from East, come in between Tobago and Trinidad, then enter the first most Easterly Bocas and head into Chaguaramas. If you're coming from North ( Grenada ) keep east so you can enter the East Bocas, don't let the current push your boat West so you end up entering the Bocas having border to Venezuela.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 04, 2016 11:26 AM

Our Experience with Trinidad Customs - Forwarded by SV Tegan 1, 2 March 2016:

We checked out of Trinidad on Feb 10, 2016, and at that time Customs told us that even though Immigration gives you 24 hours to depart, Customs gives you only 4 hours. ALSO, if you actually depart (or arrive for that matter) outside of regular office hours (0800-1200, 1300-1600 hrs, Mon-Fri) you will be charged overtime.

For example - we were in the office on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 15:30, but because we told them we were leaving at 19:00 we were charged 193.40$TT overtime, plus 10$TT for 'Harbour Master fees", on top of the 'Harbour fees'.

Janet Pinder

wingssail says:
Aug 06, 2015 03:16 PM

Our experience with officials in Scarborough was the opposite. We arrived in Store bay after an overnight from Trinidad and took a bus to Scarborough where we found out that we were not legally allowed to be there, having cleared from Trinidad for Granada, not Tobago. We explained that it was out mistake, a misunderstanding of the rules, and after several immigration and customs officials discussed it, they accepted our explanations and allowed us to clear it up by checking in and out, or something I am not sure what, with a few papers and a lot of passport stamping, but at no cost to us, and we were fine. They were understanding and patient with us. So I guess it just depends on who you talk to and what attitude everyone present is having that day. We loved Tobago and spent a couple of weeks there, stopping in many of the bays. Charlotteville was our favorite even though it rained a lot and I ruined my phone by jumping out of the dingy at the beach just as a wave came in. Oh Well. At least the rain allowed us to fill our tanks.

rschattman1 says:
Jan 31, 2015 03:38 PM

Upon arriving in Tobago from Trinidad, we checked in immediately in Scarborough. While our immigration papers were in order we were missing one paper for Customs. They immediately confiscated our papers and scheduled a hearing for two days forth. At that hearing we explained that it was an innocent and unintentional mistake to have not filled out one form and that it was our intention to comply. We went before a hearing officer and were fined $3000.00 TT. Upon reflection of all factors and the severe penalty for a minor error we were only able to account for the highly punitive measures as a reflection of prejudice. We are white, we are cruisers, and we are from the USA. Tobago is not a place one should go unless they are interested in patronising an island that doesn't value them. While Trinidad is completely different and many there were wonderful to us, Tobago is in our opinion a place to be avoided. If you do go, be forewarned that Customs is a nightmare and you will be at risk of their arbitrary and capricious behaviour.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 14, 2015 04:30 PM

There is a great resource for cruisers in Trinidad named Jesse James. Jesse has been assisting cruisers in Trinidad for many years, and is the SSCA Station Host in Trinidad as well.
Jesse may be contacted at jessejamesmembersonly[at]yahoo[dot]com

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 13, 2013 02:23 PM

Tobago, Buccoo Reef and Speyside: New buoys installed November 2013 to record climate change, coral bleaching, and changes in the reefs. Take care if navigating in these areas.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 25, 2013 12:48 PM

Update for Australian visitors to Tobago.
We arrived from Grenada yesterday and went to Immigration at the port in Scarborough. On presenting our Australian passports we were advised that Australians require visas (TTD$400 or USD$67). We questioned this as we had visited last year and didn't have to pay anything even though I had read up that Australians require a visa. However I had queried this with various Australian friends and no -one had come across this.
The Immigration Officer went to confirm this and came back with the information that CREW on yachts are NOT required to have a visa! But tourists entering by plane or ferry DO require visas!
Lynne Sands, SV Amarula

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Trinidad & Tobago: State of Emergency Comes to an End  (07 Dec 2011)

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Trinidad & Tobago: The Latest on the State of Emergency  (10 Nov 2011)

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Trinidad & Tobago - Limited State of Emergency Update  (21 Sep 2011)

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Tobago: Local Reaction to Latest Crime Against Yachts  (16 Sep 2011)

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Tobago: 2nd Security Incident Against Yachts this Month  (16 Sep 2011)

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Trinidad & Tobago still open for business despite " Limited State of Emergency" & Curfew in Trinidad - Update  (05 Sep 2011)

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Caribbean, Tobago: Diving from your own boat  (06 Jul 2011)

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Tobago, Store Bay: A Ban on Jet Skis  (06 Jul 2011)

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Caribbean Free Cruising Guides  (22 Jun 2011)

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Caribbean: Sea Rescue off Grenada on Mothers Day  (11 Jun 2011)

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Trinidad: Free Cruising Guide Now Published  (28 Oct 2010)

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New Webcast Service for Caribbean Weather  (20 Oct 2010)

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Security Precaution for Passage between Trinidad and Grenada  (25 Mar 2010)

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Missing Single-Handed British Yachtsman Washed Up in Trinidad   (06 Feb 2009)

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Fuel Crisis for Foreign Yachts in Trinidad  (06 Sep 2008)

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Trinidad Fund To Help Those Affected By Hurricane  (20 Sep 2004)

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Cruising News from the southern Caribbean  (03 Nov 2003)